Bonjour & bienvenue. I’m Ashley and I’m the author, adventurer, photographer and American turned honorary Provencal, behind exploringprovence.com
Who Am I…..
I came to Provence more than 6 years go to start the next phase of my life (that’s what I like to call it) as the director of the French affiliate of an American company. In tow was my husband of 24 years (that would be the years of our marriage not his age) and our youngest daughter, who was 14 years old at the time. My husband and I have 4 children, but the older ones were in the early stages of their adult lives and wanted to stay in the United States. So with both tears of sadness and tears of joy we kissed them and hugged them tightly before setting off for our new adventure. Thank goodness for the modern world of Skype, email, Facebook, etc. or I never would have been able to do this!
Now, several years into our lives as Frenchies and approaching the 30 year marriage milestone, I’m still director at the French office, my husband works as a technician, we’ve purchased a very old French house and are nearly finished with the remodeling, I’ve discovered the immense joy of hiking and photography, and our daughter, who is now completely bilingual, is midway through completing the BAC (diploma) at a French high school.
One of the many reasons I took the opportunity to move to France was because of my immense love for this country. I love the seasons, I love the language (well, when the French are speaking it because when I speak it there is no resemblance what so ever that it’s even French I’m speaking), I love the open markets, the vineyards, the cheese making, the boulangeries, the architecture, the history and most of all, the travel. I’ve never had so much fun traveling in all my life until I came here.
The Roads Less Traveled…..
Provence has many wonderful things about it, but for me, the best things are those that I find in the lesser-known, less traveled parts. When people come to visit Provence they usually do so with the intension of seeing Marseille, Nice, Cannes, St. Tropez and a few of the other well-known and well-talked about villages. But I found that the real Provence lies in those places that few people take the time to visit. The little villages which appear so tiny on the map that many people don’t pay attention to them or those places that the locals go to quite often, but visitors pass on when they are here. Those are the real gems. When I did start to pay attention, I found that exploring those less known and less traveled areas exposed some of the greatest treasures that Provence has to offer. I also started to find interesting things to do and people to meet along the way when I dared to venture out into the unknown.
These days I carry a regional map with me at all times. On short vacations or on weekends, weather permitting, my family breaks out the map in search of exploring some village that is unknown to us. The questions I ask myself when leaving for my next exploration are, “What awesome place am I going to discover today, what cool new thing will I get to do today, and who will I meet along the way?” Sometimes the discoveries are huge and sometimes not so much, but in either case, it’s always a discovery.
What do you want to see? What do you want to experience?
My goal is to create a site where travelers can go to find the hidden gems in Provence. A place for travelers who prefer to discover places to visit and fun things to do that are off the beaten path or at least a little less known. If this is your first time in Provence or you’ve visited on several occasions, I want to show you what’s beyond the “known” Provence. Let’s face it, if you’re planning a trip abroad its tough enough just finding a terrific place to stay and good airfare and car rental. Once you start searching for things to do and places to visit, most sites give you the most popular and touristy destination ideas. But what if you wanted to do something else, have a totally new experience, takes photos and videos of places and things you did that your friends and neighbors might not have scene? Go to a restaurant that is fantastic, but hasn’t been put on the map, yet? Even in a touristy and popular destination, that hidden gem can be found.
It’s such a pleasure to share with you the things that are waiting to be seen here. I want you to have the most fun you can possibly have in Provence.
If you ever have any inquiries into places/things to experience in Provence that you’ve heard about, but don’t see on this site, please let me know. If I’ve “discovered” it, but not yet written about it, I can move it up to the top of my list of places to write about. If I have not yet “discovered” it, I can put it down on my “gems to discover” list.
I genuinely love to hear from people and I welcome your comments. You can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Please be sure to visit my site regularly as I’m always updating it following my adventures.
You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram. My account name on those social media platforms is backyardprovence. Both of these social media pages have pictures and information from my travels around Provence, but also the other destinations I’ve explored. I am also a Google Local Guide. Many of the places I go to and things I do which are posted on my website, will also have a short review on Google Maps so you can check out my reviews there, as well.
I wish you happy travels and Bienvenue en Provence!
Founder of Exploring Provence
Stay humble and kind